Matt Rhule’s time at Baylor will go down in the books as a triumphant underdog tale. Every era must come to an end, and once it is over, it is up to the people who lived through it to tell its story. In this transition between Rhule and the next coach to come, we must write a fair narrative of Rhule’s legacy.
When Rhule signed to the Carolina Panthers, many Baylor Bears were shocked. After all, he had just extended his contract with Baylor to 2027 in Sept. While fans may feel hurt or betrayed, it is important to acknowledge all that Rhule has done for the Bears.
Rhule took a risk when he signed to Baylor in the midst of its pending sexual assault cases, a high-profile story ever-showing on the news reel. He stepped into the shoes of former coach Art Briles and walked down a distinctly different path.
In his three years at Baylor, Matt Rhule turned the football program around. The team went from 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019, redeeming itself enough to star in ESPN’s “College GameDay” in Nov.
More than just changing Baylor’s scoreboard, Rhule changed the public discourse. Baylor football was no longer marked by secrecy and was instead regarded for resiliency. This culture change remains even as Rhule moves on.
Fans who are angry over the Panthers taking Rhule should be reminded that our team is guilty of stealing Rhule from another team too.
Before coming to Baylor, Rhule was at Temple, where he led the team through a similar breakthrough. When Rhule started at Temple, the team was 2-10. By the end of his term, the team had two consecutive 10-win seasons.
When comparing Temple, a mid-major football program, to Baylor, a power five school, the move makes sense. Rhule deserved the promotion. And now, as Rhule has been given another amazing opportunity, we must see the logic in it as well.
Rhule was frank about his prospects moving to the NFL. NBC Sports reported that Rhule met with his players to talk about the possibility while they were in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.
Rhule did not just take a seemingly better opportunity the first chance he got. He rejected interest from the Colts in 2018 and Jets in 2019, according to The Dallas Morning News. The NFL reported that the seven-year contract Carolina Panthers offered Rhule was worth $62 million, a sizable offer that we can all admit would be difficult to turn down.
The Panthers’ recent eight consecutive losses is a beacon for Rhule’s expertise. Bears should be excited to watch their former coach turn another team around on a professional level.
Be ready to embrace the new coach that comes. Trust this new process.